Saugus High didn't have any words to offer Golden League rival Canyon on Friday before the teams met for the third time this season.
"We don't want to talk to them," Saugus assistant coach Bill Bolde said. "We just want to come in here and play like we own the place."
The Centurions did, clobbering host Canyon, 9-1, to clinch at least a tie for first place and the league's top playoff spot with two games remaining.
Although silent early, Saugus (11-2, 16-5) had some sign language for Canyon Coach Wally Hammond after the game.
The Centurions taped a six-foot-wide banner to their dugout wall during the final inning, and after the game Hammond and his players read the sign in astonishment. It quoted both Hammond and Canyon outfielder Gary Morgan as saying the Cowboys would kick a certain part of the Centurions' collective anatomy.
"I never said that," Hammond said, turning to his players. "Did I ever tell you guys that?"
According to both Bolde and Saugus Coach Doug Worley, Hammond made the comment to his players earlier in the week within earshot of Saugus assistant coach Bob Keown. Morgan later exchanged words with another Saugus assistant coach, John Alesia, while Alesia scouted Canyon's game against Palmdale.
"All I said was 'You're not going to beat us,' " Morgan said. "That's a pretty low-class thing to do for a first-place team."
Worley later admitted regretting hanging the banner.
"I'm going to tell my players Monday that I wish we didn't do it," he said. "Our best response was beating them, 9-1."
The incident will not soon be forgotten by Hammond, who had the banner carefully removed. He said it will be delivered to Canyon Principal Bill White.
"What a low-class outfit," Hammond said of Saugus, which defeated Canyon, 9-2, in the teams' previous meeting. "They score 18 runs against us in two ballgames and beat us two out of three. Then they do something like this."
Canyon (9-4, 13-8), which has only 8 hits and 3 earned runs in 21 innings against Saugus this season, once again was stifled by right-hander Roger Salkeld (8-3). Salkeld, who earlier this season one-hit Canyon, threw a four-hitter with six strikeouts and didn't allow a run until Ernie Figueroa doubled home Tim Rorick with two out in the seventh inning.
"He's a good pitcher," Hammond said of Salkeld. "He sure keeps us off-balance."
Said Salkeld: "I pitched pretty well. It's just a matter of keeping the ball low."
Saugus scored four runs in the third inning to give Salkeld a cushion. Canyon starter Ken Sollom walked four batters, including Jared Snyder with the bases loaded to force in a run. Rob Davis had a run-scoring-single and Jim Fritz singled to drive in two.
Davis, who was 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs, singled to score Mike Szoke in the fourth. Steve Risinger was 2 for 4 and led Saugus' three-run fifth with a two-run single.
After Risinger's single, Hammond replaced Sollom with Robbie Combs. Sollom (6-4) allowed five hits, six walks and seven earned runs and was charged with the loss.
"We just didn't play well," Hammond said. "I don't know why."
Saugus closed out its scoring when Don Pedersen led off the fifth with a home run to deep center field. It was Pedersen's sixth homer this season and eleventh of his career, making him the Centurions' career home run leader. Chris Joy, who graduated last year held the previous record.
"We'd like to forget the banner," Bolde admitted afterward. "We just felt that they've never given us the courtesy or respect we deserve."